Monday, July 15, 2019

Growth

Summer is a fitting time for growth as a metaphor and reality. BeWell Bohemia Herbs and Things is growing. I have scheduled many in person vending events in the coming months. I am excited to commit to presenting my wares and sharing my knowledge at these in person events. In the words of Little Red Riding Hood from Sondheim's "Into the Woods", "Well, excited and scared." I quit the anxious questions about "what if I don't feel well that day?" or "will I have enough stock" or "how can I be sure to prepare enough food and drink for the day?" or  "will the tent withstand rain?" or.. they go on. I smile, take a deep breath and remind myself to trust. That I am able to problem solve and endure challenge.

Then maybe I make some tea to support calm mind.


The growth extends in different areas, as well. I am leading workshops, applying for a grant to offer workshop series in local communities free of charge, so folks can be exposed to and learn about herbalism with comfort and hands-on activities. Check out the grant application video: (and like and share, too #grants4plants a program offered by Mountain Rose Herbshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p08xJ44uBx0&t=17s

The workshops, led to completion of a booklet, which I published in both ebook, and print book versions. If you attend the workshop on July 16, 2019 at the Otterbein (IN) Public Library, you receive an ebook edition free. If you aren't able to join us for the workshop, there is an ebook sale in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, so buy the ebook by July 18 and you get it for $1.69.

ebook: https://books2read.com/u/mv7aw2

print book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/brooke-criswell/tea-of-tranquility-making-herbal-teas-that-support-tranquility-and-nervous-system-function/paperback/product-24173171.html

The online store has grown too, so if. you are not local to Indiana, you can still check out BeWell Bohemia Herbs and Things store, and order fun and practical items to support your wellness and expand your connection to plants. More seed varieties are ready weekly, so check back.

Thanks for being connected to this community and celebrating the many ways of wellness.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Seeds, BeWell Bundles, and Workshop Wonders

The bright July sun warms to the very bones. I am reveling in the bliss of summer. The bees buzz lazily from calendula bloom to tulsi blossom.  Subtle yellow flowers of lemon balm bedeck stem after stem.

I have collected seed from the spring blooming columbine flower, and have them available for purchase on my online store. I will also have them at upcoming vending events in the greater Lafayette, Indiana area - watch for details in the coming days.
Hummingbirds love these orange and yellow flowered columbine.

In addition to the promise of future flowers (seeds),  BeWell Bundles, and Workshop Wonders are available.

BeWell Bundles are opportunities for you to regularly receive themed packages, virtual or physical, depending on your selection. Check out the options.

Workshop Wonders are individually crafted by me, Brooke, herbalist and educator. What have workshop participants been saying?

"I learned not only what the plant is, and  that it is edible, and I loved the taste test." Marcie

I liked best that we saw how to make recipes step-by-step, then we got to taste it."

I enjoyed learning about the plants and how easy it is to use them in teas. I was walking through my yard and I thought, 'Hey, there is that ine with the purple rib - I remember that plant.' " Wilma

Visit the online store for more information or to place an order.
Contact me with questions or to discuss details"

bewellbohemia@gmail.com
765-250-1509
https://bewell-bohemia-herbs-and-things.square.site/s/shop




Monday, June 17, 2019

Through Thyme and Space workshop


For more herbal information, check out:
https://bewellbohemiaherbsandthings.blogspot.com
https://bewell-bohemia-herbs-and-things.square.site/ home
https://www.facebook.com/BewellBohemia/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/
Through Thyme and Space
A delightful trek through beverage treats infused with herbal goodness
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Herbalism is the science and practice of using plants to support wellness.

Pineapple, Banana, Plantain & Dandelion smoothie
Ingredients:
Fresh or canned pineapple (if canned, reserve liquid) Frozen bananas
Plantain & Dandelion tea (Cooled)

Combine ingredients in blender or smoothie maker


Thyme and Lemon Balm Tea

Ingredients:
Thyme [1 tsp dried, or 1 TBS fresh] Lemon Balm [1 tsp dried, or 1 TBS fresh] Water 8 ounces

Infuse herbs in boiling water for 15 minutes, strain and enjoy hot or iced. You may make a pitcher’s worth and drink it within 48 hours
1

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Lemon Balm Monograph

BeWell Bohemia Herbs & Things
Herbal Monograph, by Brooke Criswell

Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis


When I moved into our current house mid-summer last year, I was astounded at the abundance of lemon balm growing in rock strewn plantings, along the house, in the yard… everywhere. An assertive grower, as many mint family plants are, the lemon balm was well established and comfortably spreading every which where. I harvested a bountiful crop, dried, and stored it. Over the winter I shared the bounty with friends. Lemon balm has many positive attributes, including a subtle lemony-flavor and sooth to nervous system. I don’t drink much lemon balm because I have a hypo-thyroid condition, and lemon balm can impact the thyroid in a ‘slowing’ or ‘calming’ capacity, which is not helpful to me. I do drink tea blends with lemon balm on occasion. I find it especially delightful in a spritzer or iced tea.
Lemon balm is easy to grow, so, if a timid or novice gardener, lemon balm eases the way into successful gardening. Put it in a pot or the ground, it does well in either; full-sun, part-shade, also both. Dry conditions, no problem if it is an established plant and in the ground (in a container, drought is another ballyhoo entirely).



Garden Use
Growing Conditions  Lemon balm is a confidant perennial to zone 4.

Preferences
Moist soil
Fun sun to part shade
Neutral pH (7.0)

Plant details
Height 2 to 3 feet
Width up to 2 feet, spreads abundantly
Companion Planting Affiliations
Bees are found of lemon balm

Care notes
Since lemon balm is an assertive grower, you might want to control it with limits; for example plant it in a raised bed, a bed with edging, or a container. Or Dig it up and share with a friend when it pops up beyond where you prefer it to grow.




Herbal Use

Parts Used  - Leaves
When to Harvest
Harvest ongoing for immediate use
Cut back early summer and again late summer and dry crop

How to Prepare
There are many ways to use lemon balm to support wellness.

> As a compress
Use a clean soft cotton cloth soaked in a strong infusion of lemon balm to relieve painful swellings (e.g. gout)

> As an infused oil
  • Begin by harvesting lemon balm leaf and drying it completely. In order to decrease the likelihood the oil will go rancid, make the infused oil from dried lemon balm leaves. If you opt to use fresh leaves, crush or chop them first, and know the shelf-life of the infused oil is considerably shorter.
  1. Fill a clean, wide-mouth glass jar ⅔ to ¾ full of herb
  2. Pour carrier oil, such as olive oil, over plant material the place lid tightly on jar
  3. Set on the counter (some folks say in a sunny window, others say a dark spot - experiment and choose your preference)
  4. Shake daily to mix oil and herb
  5. Allow to sit for at least two and up to five weeks
  6. Strain and store in a cool, dark, dry place

Penelope Ody, in The Complete Medicinal Herbal, suggests applying a warmed lemon balm infused oil as an ointment1 on chest to help open airways and soothe tension.

> As an insect repellent
  • Rub crushed lemon balm leaves onto a table to thwart insects
  • Toss a bundle of lemon balm leaves onto a campfire; the smoke repels insects

> As a steam 
A lemon balm steam reportedly cleanses pores and the skin.
  • Place crushed lemon balm leaves into a bowl
  • Pour boiling water over leaves
  • Make a loose tent using a towel over the shoulders and head
  • Breath in steam* be careful, it is steam - hot, moist air - do not burn yourself, keep a safe distance between you and the bowl, remove head from tent if the air is too hot
> In Recipes suggests Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia2
  • Chop fresh lemon balm leaves and add to orange marmalade
  • Stuff fresh lemon balm sprigs into a whole fish before grilling or baking; remove sprigs before eating the fish
> As a tea
Infuse the herb in boiling water to extract many of the beneficial constituents.

  1. Boil water
  2. Place 2 tsp of fresh or 1 tsp of dried herb per 8 oz water into teapot, press, thermos, or mason jar *The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody states that the infusion is best made from fresh plant material.1 (aren’t you glad you have it growing in your garden?)
  3. Pour boiling water over blooms
  4. Cover (this is very important, for if uncovered the constituents will rise with the steam, and you will have a less flavorful, less potent cup of tea)
  5. Allow to steep for 10 minutes
  6. Strain and Enjoy!
Lemon balm flavor can be mild, so blending it with other herbs makes an excellent choice.
The "Medicine Chest" column of the Summer 2017 issue of Herb Quarterly suggests pairing tulsi and lemon balm. "Holy basil [another name for tulsi] and lemon balm blend calms the nerves and uplifts the spirits."3


Cautions/Considerations
Lemon Balm may slow or lower thyroid function if taken in high doses.

References
1. Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. Dorling Kindersley, 1993
2. Kowalchik, Claire, and William H. Hylton. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs: Editors. Rodale Press, 1987.
3. Graves, Maria Noel. "Medicine Chest." Herb Quarterly, 2017, pp. 20 - 22.

BeWell Bohemia Herbs & Things
Herbal Monograph, by Brooke Criswell


Thyme -Thymus vulgaris
Who does not know, and find themselves occasionally singing the lyrics of the folk song made famous by Simon and Garfunkel, “Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme…” The last in a list of beloved herbs referenced, thyme closes the line. Do you know the plant as well as the lyric? Does it come to mind when cooking? Considering herbal medicine? Well, this herb offers much in kitchen and apothecary alike; from the heady aroma of a thyme steam, to the flavorful seasoning in main dishes.

If you have a head cold, a thyme steam works wonders to clear your sinus and ward of infection due to its antimicrobial aromatic constituents that enter the respiratory tract upon the moist air as the steam is inhaled. Katja Swift of Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalist touts the effectiveness of a thyme steam, both at the onset of infection and as a preventive measure in advance of illness, “...breathe in that hot Thymey steam. It’s hot alright – and not just because the water was boiling, but also because the volatile oils themselves are super carminative. It will feel pretty intense to breathe in deeply, but try to – the further down into your lungs that you can get that Thymey steam, the more microbes you’re literally killing on contact! So breathe deep, and have your handkerchief at the ready, because this is one of the best sinus-clearing methods I know.”
Thyme grows as a creeping ground cover, that develops woody stems in areas where it successfully overwinters. An excellent plant for rock gardens, or as a low growing plant beneath taller growers. Thyme holds a long history in Greek, Roman, and Medieval European cultures; associated with imparting courage, warding off evil, and as a healthful tonic. Contemporary research explores many and varied compounds and actions of Thymus vulgaris. The abstract of Determination of total phenolic content, antioxidant activity and antifungal effects of Thymus vulgaris, Trachyspermum ammi and Trigonella foenum-graecum extracts on growth of Fusarium solani states, “... thyme and fenugreek are spice and aromatic crops with a number of medicinal properties which are known as important sources of essential phytochemicals. The purpose of this study was to investigate the antioxidant capacity, total phenolic content and antifungal activities of these plant extracts…”  This, and many other studies, discuss the impact of thyme, in either essential oil or plant extract (in alcohol) form. The article explains the methods and conclusions of the study, including a detailed description of how the essential oil of the plants were collected, and how the plant constituents were extracted in alcohol solutions. The study showed that many phytochemicals are present in thyme, and reinforced that the method used to extract phytochemicals informs which are present, and to what degree, in the resulting item. Or to put more simply, whether you use water, vinegar, or alcohol determines what attributes of thyme are extracted; different constituents are soluble in different media. This is true not only of thyme, but of any plant used to make herbal concoctions. If you have little interest in specialized scientific research into plants, but are curious about the plant’s cultivation needs,  and at home uses, we can turn focus there.


As a home gardener, thyme will be used as a tea, spice, or even to make homemade tinctures, oxymels, vinegars, or other herbal preparations, rather than as an essential oil, which requires special equipment and vast amounts of plant material. Many of the benefits of thyme are accessible via home preparation. Additionally, thyme has much to offer the garden ecosystem: a companion to brassica family plants, thyme may repel cabbageworm and whitefly. Thyme is also reported to enhance the growth of some nightshade family plants, including potato, eggplant, and tomato.






Garden Use
Growing Conditions
Thyme grows as a bushy,  or creeping & low-growing woody perennial (depending on cultivar) in zones 5 through 9. While thyme will tolerate poor soil, good drainage is a must; without good drainage, thyme may be susceptible to fungus. TanyaDenckla, in The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food states that pruning helps keep the plant bushy and prevent it becoming, “woody and straggly.”
While not especially noted for its flower, thyme is a summer bloomer, flowering in June and July.


Preferences

  • Full sun
  • Well-drained, light, dry to stony poor soils
  • Tolerates drought
  • pH 5.5 - 7.0

Plant details
Flowers pink to lilac* varies (along with leaf color) depending on cultivar
Height to 12 inches* varies by cultivar`
Width 18 inches - 3 feet* varies by cultivar and pruning
Companion Planting Affiliations
Thyme enhances the growth of many nightshade family plants
Potato
Eggplant
Tomato
Thyme repels pest insects, including:
Cabbageworms
Whitefly
“Bees love the tiny blossoms.”
Care notes
Be sure to site thyme in an area of your garden that has consistent and expedient drainage. Thyme does not tolerate ‘wet feet’. Choose a spot with ample sunlight. Remember, thyme is a mediterranean plant by origin, and thus is partial to warm, balmy, sunny, and dry conditions.




Herbal Use


Parts Used  - leaves, aerial parts
When to Harvest
  • Harvest as needed for use or midsummer cut plant back to 2 inches of growth. Freeze or dry the harvest for future use. After the cutting, the thyme plant will regrow before onset of winter. Continue to make light harvests for single use, but if you trim back the second growth before winter, the plant may struggle to survive the winter.
How to Prepare
Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs asserts, “[Thyme] has served as a carminative, vermifuge, rubefacient, and antiseptic. Thyme is particularly beneficial in quieting gastrointestinal complaints…. A tea ..for shortness of breath and congested lungs.”6
Below are some ideas for using your home grown yarden thyme as a culinary spice and medicinal concoction. I love the savory flavor of thyme in tea; warming of a winter day and refreshing iced in summer.


  • As a tea - Infuse the herb in boiling water to extract many of the beneficial constituents.

  1. Boil water
  2. Place 2 tsp of fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried herb per 8 oz water into teapot, press, thermos, or mason jar
  3. Pour boiling water over herb
  4. Cover - if uncovered the constituents will rise with the steam, and you will have a less flavorful, less potent infusion
  5. Allow to steep - 12 minutes is my favorite flavor and texture; infuse least 10 minutes to extract medicinal doses of constituents
  6. Strain and Enjoy!
    1. Drink while hot
    2. Cool, add ice, and savor the savory.

  • As a spice 
Add dried or fresh marjoram to dishes while cookingUse in recipes

> “Add sprigs of fresh thyme to olives in their brine”6

> “Serve sprigs of thyme on iced beet borscht that has been topped with plain yogurt”6

> Saute sweet peppers, onions, and garlic in olive oil; add thyme; serve over pasta, rice,(6) or spiralized vegetables

  • As a steam

If you have a head cold, a thyme steam works wonders to clear your sinus and ward of infection due to its antimicrobial aromatic constituents that enter the respiratory tract upon the moist air as the steam is inhaled. Katja Swift of Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalist touts the effectiveness of a thyme steam, both at the onset of infection and as a preventive measure in advance of illness, “...breathe in that hot Thymey steam. It’s hot alright – and not just because the water was boiling, but also because the volatile oils themselves are super carminative. It will feel pretty intense to breathe in deeply, but try to – the further down into your lungs that you can get that Thymey steam, the more microbes you’re literally killing on contact! So breathe deep, and have your handkerchief at the ready, because this is one of the best sinus-clearing methods I know.”1

As a flavored (infused) honey
Follow the recipe from “Pantry Profiles” in the Fall 2018 Issue of Herb Quarterly
  • Fill a glass jar ⅔ full with fresh thyme. Including leaf and blossom
  • Cover with Raw honey
  • Stir to remove air bubbles
  • Seal jar and set in a sunny window for two weeks
  • Gently heat honey over low heat (less than 110degrees farenheit) so that you may strain out the thyme
  • Place in airtight bottle and store in a cool dry place
The honey can be used to sweeten tea, or seltzers or taken by spoonful as medicinal dose, or in any way you would otherwise use honey.

Cautions/Considerations
Fresh thyme may be enjoyed ingested or topically.
Do not ingest or apply topically the essential oil of thyme, it is very concentrated and must be diluted in a carrier oil for topical use or diluted in water for steam inhalation.

Reference List
1. “Thyme: Herb of the Week · CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism.” CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, 12 Apr. 2018, commonwealthherbs.com/thyme-herb-week/.
2. Gedikoğlu, Ayça, et al. “Evaluation of Thymus Vulgarisand Thymbra SpicataEssential Oils and Plant Extracts for Chemical Composition, Antioxidant, and Antimicrobial Properties.” Food Science & Nutrition, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2 Apr. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6526640/.
3. Denckla, Tanya L. K. The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organid Food. Storey, 2003.
4. Buchanan, Rita. Taylor's Guide to Herbs. Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
5. Wilson, Rickie. “Companion Planting With Herbs: Boost Your Garden This Season with the Right Pairings of Plants.” Herb Quarterly, 2018, pp. 48–52
6. Kowalchik, Claire, and William H. Hylton. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs: Editors. Rodale Press, 1987.



Thursday, June 6, 2019

online shop open!

I am amazed and grateful. I have accomplished another milestone on this business journey. Each step leads naturally to the next...
The online shop is open!
You can go to the shop, see products, place orders, pay... and I will then joyfully ship your items, if you are geographically distant, or arrange a meet-up for you to pick-up items locally.

check out this wonderful online store website...

https://bewell-bohemia-herbs-and-things.square.site/home

Please feel free to share, far and wide.
If you see errors, comment below, or email me so I can make necessary corrections. bewellbohemia@gmail.com


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lemon Balm Bundles in the drying shed

If you watched the "Making Lemon Balm Bundles" video, you know I harvested lemon balm and wrapped stems into bundles to dry.

In the below short video, I show how I hang those bundles in my yarden shed.


Growth

Summer is a fitting time for growth as a metaphor and reality. BeWell Bohemia Herbs and Things is growing. I have scheduled many in person v...